Agile Insider
Published in

Agile Insider

The Way I Select Product Ideas & Projects

Hello. My name is Andrei. For the last 8 years, I have held various positions in companies that were growing at an incredible speed: MTS, IKEA, Svyaznoy. I managed projects differently: sometimes I created something from scratch, sometimes I developed what had already been created.

Now, I’m leading a software product.

One of the biggest challenges I face is finding profitable, trending products. Coming up with a product idea is a tricky process. A good idea is only half the battle. There is only one viable idea, two max, of a hundred. To generate a hundred ideas is a big thing.

In this article, I would like to share my way of selecting product ideas.

Note it

All the thoughts about new products that come to my mind I immediately note. To be honest, I don’t use research methods when ideas come from a current problem or a need. I rather move in the opposite direction.

I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing, but otherwise, I simply can’t get emotions from the process (emotions is an important thing in product management, though. It only needs to be embraced and channeled). The targeted user research doesn’t inspire me.

Ideas have been coming to my mind for at least ten years, so I have a lot of notes about new products and businesses.

Combine and evaluate ideas

A couple of years ago, I decided to systemize ideas and offers to participate in startups. I thought out a simple scoring logic and made a Google Sheet, where put all the ideas.

Idea evaluations parameters:

1. Product’s durability. How long-term can this product be? Will it be relevant in 10–20 years, or it is limited to 3–5 years?

2. Product’s scale. What market do we focus on — on the local or the global one? Can it garner users’ attention worldwide? How large is the market now, will it grow?

3. My satisfaction. Will I enjoy feeling ownership? Will I be satisfied with the working process?

4. Product’s profitability. How much money can the product bring me as a founder? Is there a potential for capitalization or is it a dividend project?

5. Product’s complexity. How difficult will it be to launch and develop a product, based on my current experience, competencies, and resources?

Each parameter I evaluate on a scale from 1 to 10. Whether through intuition or Google research. The total score is calculated as the sum of the first four parameters minus the fifth.

Every 2–3 weeks or every time a new project is added to the list I re-evaluate it. This is important, as perception and awareness change over time and the final scores may change as well.

Select and simulate

The most difficult thing is turned out to be selecting. It doesn’t work if you just take an idea with the highest score. There are always plenty of reasons why it isn’t the right time to start particularly with this product.

So, I’ve adopted this approach: I keep the list, regularly look into it and re-evaluate projects, and wait for an impulse. The impulse comes up as a sharp, obsessive desire to start working on a specific idea right now.

I don’t know how to influence the impulse. It may not exist for half a year or may arise suddenly for two different projects at once.

After the choice is made, I model and test it.

Some of the most successful product owners I’ve talked with believe that only fanatical belief in an idea can be a solid ground for launching a startup. Launching a startup is a long way with thousands of obstacles; it is almost impossible to rationalize the choice of the initial idea in such circumstances.

I stick to my rule: we need to rationalize the process while listening to our inner voice. I don’t claim to represent the truth, anyway.




Exclusive and practical insights that enable the agile community to succeed.

Recommended from Medium

5 Rules of Remote Project Management

What I Wish I Knew as a Non-Technical Major Breaking Into PM

Stakeholder Engagement Strategy for Development Sector

Sprint by Jake Knapp

Is your idea management system helping you create impact and ship value? (Part 2)

Building a Serverless Data Lake in AWS to Capture Product Engagement Metrics

Does Your Product Pass the Steve Jobs’ Bubble Test?

6 Lies Holding Us Back from Reaching Product Nirvana

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Andrei Smagin

Andrei Smagin

Product Manager nut. Stirring up some monkey business. Delivering genius solutions. Teaching on moonlighting. Usually here:

More from Medium

4 Gut Check Questions For Product Team Health

Four types of Product Managers and how to deal with them

Face it, product management is hard.

What Makes An Exceptional Product Manager?